As I suspected when the story broke, video of a frightened dog being … let’s say, strongly encouraged, to get into a pool during the filming of a “A Dog’s Purpose” has led to an explosive response from dog lovers on the Internet.
What I didn’t suspect was so many saying we should withhold judgment.
Here’s an example from my own Facebook page — a comment in response to either my ohmidog! post, or a previous comment from a reader who had decided not to see the movie. It urges viewers of the video not to “rush to crucifixion”:
“I also know that there are HOURS of footage to the contrary which this was conveniently edited from, and calculatedly released just prior to the film’s premiere. A PETA plant, I believe. I also personally know several people behind this film. I know how shocked, appalled, stunned, mortified they were. I know they immediately sought answers, spent all of yesterday viewing all TRUE, raw film from this exact scene shoot as well as several prior rehearsals … Closed minds, open mouths, soapboxes, rushing to judgment, social media & MEDIA are DANGEROUS TO GOOD PEOPLE.”
Peruse social media and you’ll find, for every 10 people expressing outrage, at least one saying the video was edited (as it clearly was), that there’s a conspiracy afoot (as is likely) and that we shouldn’t have an opinion about what we see on the video until we see it “in context.”
Guess what? I don’t, in this case, need context. Show me hours of footage of Hercules, the German shepherd, being pampered by his handlers and it won’t make a whit of difference.
Even the author of the best-selling book the movie is based on, while admitting mistakes were made, is spinning things as positively as possible.
“…When I was on set, the ethic of everyone was the safety and comfort of the dogs,” W. Bruce Cameron wrote on his Facebook page. “I have since viewed footage taken of the day in question, when I wasn’t there, and it paints an entirely different picture.”
“The dog was not terrified and not thrown in the water — I’ve seen footage of Hercules earlier that day joyfully jumping in the pool,” he added.
Again, it’s the argument that the dog was mostly treated right. That’s good to know, but not the least bit relevant.
The 45 seconds showing the handler nudge, push and lower the dog in the water against his will make it clear he was frightened, resistant and stressed — and that should have been enough to call off the stunt, at the outset.
That eventually they maybe did, for that day, or for that dog, doesn’t change the 45 seconds.
The producer, the director, and one of the stars have all said they found the video disturbing. The American Humane Association agrees, and they’ve placed the representative they assigned to monitor the movie on leave.
And yet the apologists — motivated maybe by their love of the book, or by their hate for PETA, or by their ties to industries that exploit dogs — keep saying it is too early to say anything bad occurred.
That said, what the video shows is only borderline abuse, if it’s abuse at all. Hercules was not physically harmed. In the history of animals in the entertainment industry, far worse things have happened, which is why this IS a story and why vigilance and monitoring are necessary in movie productions involving live animals.
Pursuing criminal charges, or a boycott of the movie (as PETA is calling for), may be over-reactions. I won’t say what the video shows meets the legal definition for animal cruelty.
But stating this is not proper treatment for an animal in a movie? I have no qualms with doing that. And I have no problem pointing out perfectly realistic results could have been achieved with computer graphics.
After Hercules went in and out of the churning water — outboard motors were used to create the effect of river rapids — the video cuts to another scene showing a German shepherd in the water, and going under it, for long enough that someone on the set shouted “cut it” and handlers rushed to his aid.
Some reports suggest that part of the video was taken on a different day, and could have even involved a different dog.
That second part of the video, I’d agree, though it does seem to convey a little bit of alarm on the set, is so short and blurry that it does require some context.
But pointing out flaws in the video, or the questionable motivations of those who provided it to TMZ (probably for a fee), does nothing to excuse the behavior on set — or the movie maker’s bottom line responsibility for it.
Cut through the haze of Internet hubbhub, sparring, intrigue, and guesswork and what we can see in the first part of the video — in or out of context — is enough to remind us that animals in the entertainment industry need to be protected, and that they should never be forced to pursue stunts against their will.
That, I suggest, should be step one in sorting through this episode — seeing the underlying concern, not obfuscating it — whether you were a party to it, or just watching from the outside.
Step two? The movie’s makers need to accept responsibility, and none seem to have gotten anywhere close to doing that.
Instead, they almost all seem to be saying “I was disturbed by video. I didn’t see it when it happened. I wasn’t there. Mistakes were made. I would have stopped it. Why was the video just now leaked?”
Movie fans, dog lovers, and most of all Hercules, deserve something better than that.
(Photo: Amblin Entertainment)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 23rd, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a dogs purpose, amblin entertainment, american humane association, animals, animals in movies, book, churning, context, controversy, cruelty, director, dogs, encouraged, entertainment, fear, forced, fright, german shepherd, handlers, hercules, industry, judgment, lasse hallstrom, leaked, movie, opinions, peta, pets, pool, responsibility, stress, tmz, trainers, treatment, video, w. bruce cameron
On the second day of Jinjja, he peed twice in the house, still was very fearful, but otherwise he acted quite friendly.
On the third day of Jinjja, I left him home alone, only for an hour, he didn’t cower, and he didn’t destroy anything.
On the fifth day of Jinjja, he was still shaking his past: Raised on a dog farm, tied up or crated, little human contact, headed for slaughter, and destined to end up as meat.
On the sixth day of Jinjja, he started coming to me, not when I called him, of his own volition, just for affection, maybe a butt scratch, gave me some face licks, and not only when I dangled yummy treats.
On the seventh day of Jinjja, he faced another test. It was Thanksgiving, I left him for two hours, stuffed myself with turkey, made off with leftovers, came home and found him, despite all my worries, behaving absolutely perfectly.
On the eighth day of Jinjja, I tried once again, to get him in my car. He can’t be lifted, try and he’ll nip ya, bribed him with turkey, made a little headway, he put his front paws there, didn’t make the leap though, still apparently not quite ready.
On the ninth day of Jinjja, he spent the night in my room. First time he’s done it, not in my bed though, won’t jump there either, or up on sofas, I know he can do it, seen him in in my courtyard, when he thinks I’m not looking, gets up pretty high too, every time he sees or hears a squirrel.
On the tenth day of Jinjja, this Jindo dog of mine, continues to impress me, no inside peeing, tearing up nothing, stopped fearing TV, eating much more neatly, barking somewhat less-ly, mellow for the most part, friendly to strangers, be they dogs or humans, or anything other than squirrels.
On the eleventh day of Jinjja, he’s much better on the leash, much much less tugging, stops when I tell him, still trips me up some, but fewer collisions, and he finally got into my Jeep, with help from a stepstool, and lots more turkey, enjoyed a short ride. It’s a very, very major victory!
On the twelfth day of Jinjja, as I composed this piece, I realized it goes on … just a little too long … sure the song’s beloved … but the beats a little humdrum … keeps on repeating … makes me quite sleepy … Jinjja, too, I thinky … He’s dozing at my feet, see … Still, there’s a meaning … in this song that I’m singing … about a dog who would’ve been eaten … My point is every day with him’s a gift.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 29th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 12 days of christmas, animals, behavior, car, care, christmas, dog, dog meat, dog meat industry, dog meat trade, dogs, eating dog, fear, freedom, jindo, jindol, jinjja, korea, korean, new dog, north carolina, ohmidog!, pets, refugee, rescued, saved, skittish, socializing, training, travel, watauga humane society
Many of us may be most familiar with infrared thermography from its least valuable (I’d argue) use — ghost hunting.
It serves many far more sophisticated purposes, though, than providing fodder for those shaky-camera paranormal TV shows — from assessing medical conditions to military reconnaissance, from finding missing children to sensing mood changes in humans.
And, no big surprise, dogs.
In the latest post on Dog Spies, her blog on Scientific American, Julie Hecht recounted a recent study at the Animal Behavior, Cognition and Welfare Research Group at the University of Lincoln in the UK.
Researchers found, through infrared thermography, that the ear temperature of dogs decreased (turning blue on the camera) when they were isolated, and warmed backed up (turning red) when they reunited with people.
It’s similar to findings in studies of human stress levels — except in humans it’s the nose, instead of the ears, that is the most common giveaway.
As Hecht explained, infrared thermography picks up changes in surface temperature. When frightened, stressed or placed in unfamiliar surroundings, blood rushes away from your extremities, in dogs and humans. They get cooler as your core gets warmer and ready to react to whatever threat may be ahead.
The tip of a scared person’s nose gets cooler in such situations, just as rat paws and tails have been shown to do in experiments. In rabbits and sheep, the ears are the most obvious indicator.
Stefanie Riemer and colleagues placed dogs for brief periods in an isolated and novel environment. As the researchers expected, thermographic images of the dogs in isolation showed their ear temperature increasing, then rising when they were reunited with people.
The study appears in the current issue of Physiology & Behavior.
Six dogs were included in the study, and several were found to be unsuitable for study because their fur was too dense to get a good reading.
It seems like a technology that could be put to good use when it comes to studying dogs, and in learning more about those with behavioral issues and what triggers them.
That seems to me a better pursuit than chasing ghosts who aren’t really bothering anybody. Non-invasive, physically, as it is, even infrared photography has the potential for being cruel.
In a study in Italy two years ago, 20 bank tellers who had been robbed at gunpoint were shown a series of faces — happy, neutral, angry, etc. On the fifth face, the researchers exposed them to a loud and unexpected blast, and recorded, thermographically, how the blood left the noses and face.
Half of the tellers had already been diagnosed with PTSD.
Whether the researchers ended up giving PTSD to the other half is not addressed in the study.
(Photo: S. Riemer / Physiology & Behavior)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: Animal Behavior Cognition and Welfare Research, animals, behavior, change, cognition, dog spies, dogs, ears, emotions, eyes, fear, fearful, ghosts, infrared thermography, intrared, julie hecht, moods, nose, pets, photography, physical, reactions, research, scientific american, sensing, stress, stressed, study, temperature, uk, university of lincoln
A new medication that claims to soothe dogs who are frightened by loud noises, such as fireworks and thunderstorms, will be available to veterinarians in the U.S. within a week — in plenty of time to help make the 4th of July less traumatic.
Sileo (not a very serious sounding name, is it?) comes in a gel form and is the first prescription medicine for treating anxiety over loud noises in canines– a widespread problem that leads to property destruction, running away and life-threatening injuries.
Its U.S. maker, Zoetis of Florham Park, New Jersey, says Sileo (pronounced SILL-lee-oh) works by blocking norepinephrine, a brain chemical similar to adrenaline that pumps up anxiety.
It is applied to a dog’s gums via a pre-filled, needle-less syringe.
Zoetis says the medication will give owners of the estimated third of the 70 million dogs in the U.S. who have problems with loud noises an alternative to human anti-anxiety pills, like Xanax, that sedate dogs for many hours.
Sileo takes effect within 30 minutes to an hour.
The pre-filled applicator costs $30, and contains enough for two doses for a dog of 80 to 100 pounds, four doses for a 40-pound dog, or six doses for a small dog.
Dogs can be re-dosed every two hours, up to five times during each noise event, Zoetis said in a press release.
Zoetis has exclusive rights to distribute Sileo in the U.S. under an agreement with the medication’s developer, Orion Corp. of Finland.
In testing on 182 pet beagles conducted on New Year’s Eve, 75 percent of their owners rated its effect good or excellent. Side effects were rare and minor, the company says.
(Photo: Provided by Zoetis)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 17th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 4th of July, animals, anxiety, behavior, canine, dog, dogs, drugs, fear, fireworks, first, fourth of july, gel, july 4, loud, medication, medicine, new years, noise, noises, pets, prescription, sileo, syringe, thunderstorms, veterinarian, veterinary, zoetis
Yes, ohmidog! pokes cruel fun at “new technology” from time to time, but only when “new technology” deserves it — as is the case with this tail wagging monitor a group hopes to bring to the market.
Some Cornell University graduates have launched an Indiegogo campaign to finance the manufacturing of DogStar TailTalk, which they describe as a translator of dog emotions.
The device consists of a lightweight sensor that wraps around your dog’s tail, monitoring the speed and direction of the tail’s movement with an internal accelerometer and a gyroscope.
Coupled with a phone app, the developers say, it will tell you when your dog is happy, and when his or her tail wag may be a sign of stress.
Scientific studies conducted in Italy have concluded that the prominent direction of a dog’s tail wag is an indicator of whether he’s happy or feeling anxiety, aggression or fear.
Wagging more to the right is said to be an indication of positive feelings.
The developers of the device say the direction of the wag isn’t always discernable to the naked eye: “Tail wagging is asymmetric and includes complex emotional signals that the human eye cannot recognize.”
We’re not so sure about that, just as we’re not so sure that a dog owner, seeing their dog’s tail wagging upon meeting, say, another dog, will have time to fire up the app to determine whether the meeting is going to go well.
Like a lot of canine-oriented technology — from treat poppers to automatic ball throwers to spy cams — this little gizmo takes over a task and/or responsibility that we should be doing ourselves, thereby growing closer and better knowing our dog, as opposed to distancing ourselves from our dog and giving them the features of robots.
As the goofy video above shows, the device may have some value when used remotely, such as learning the dog really doesn’t like the dog walker at all, but that — again — is something a dog owner should be able to ascertain beforehand without gyroscopes or apps.
The design team says it consulted on the project with “professors from the famous College of Veterinary Medicine in Cornell University.”
We think we smell a class project resurfacing for the marketplace. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Current plans call for the TailTalk app to work with iOS or Android phones, and to include features like the “Happiness Overview” function, which tracks a dog’s emotional status over the course of a day, a week, or a month. The monitoring device will be waterproof and “chew-resistant.” We can only hope that dogs, annoyed by having a tail attachment, don’t inadvertently chew through something other than the device.
So far, the campaign has raised about a third of its $100,000 funding goal.
If all goes according to plan, the TailTalk device will be ready to hit the market in about a year, and we suspect that — just as there are those who are willing to fund it — there will be those willing to buy it.
Because while the dog may sometimes wag his tail, and the tail may sometimes wag the dog, technology seems destined to almost always wag us.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 8th, 2015 under videos.
Tags: animals, anxiety, app, campaign, cornell, crowdfunding, device, direction, dog, dogs, dogstar, emotions, fear, fearful, happy, high tech, indiegogo, marketing, marketplace, monitor, pets, research, science, stressed, studies, tail, tailtalk, technology, wag, wag direction, wagging, wags
A German photographer is taking some heat — at least on the Internet — for a series of photos capturing dogs in mid-air.
Dogs used in the photo shoot didn’t plummet too far, apparently only a couple of feet or so, after being dropped by their (off camera) owners onto a mattress.
The photos were picked up by more than a few media outlets, including the Daily Mail, which called them “hilarious,” and the Huffington Post, which termed the dog’s faces “precious,” pointed out no dogs were injured and noted, “We’re betting some of them even wanted to go again, since dogs are just awesome.”
Readers, almost unanimously, had, an entirely different view of it. Almost all those leaving comments on the Huffington Post post, called it animal cruelty, with many noting the fear they say is evident in the dog’s eyes.
Nearly 100 dogs and their owners turned up at Christe’s studio after she issued a call for canine models — and none of the owners apparently had any problem holding their dogs in the air and dropping them onto a mattress.
Christe (left) said she was seeking a unique perspective for her dog photos, and that all the dogs who took part seemed to have fun doing so.
“The dogs were dropped by their owners onto a mattress from as low a height as possible, and the impression of flight was enlarged by wind machines,” the photographer explained in the Daily Mail.
But as some commenters noted, even light landings can be hard on small dogs like dachshunds, and — regardless of how far they’re falling — the stress and fear it causes constitutes cruelty, some say.
“It’s actually incredibly dangerous for doxins to jump, let alone be dropped,” wrote one. “Their backs are very fragile and can break. This is more about a photographer wanting the spotlight, than it is art. Shame on you for putting your ego before these dogs’ safety and well being.”
We’d go a step further and say it’s also about websites who pander to dog lovers without pausing to think about what they’re pasting onto their sites — the ones that, in their haste to get more hits, slap an “adorable” label on anything dog-related and share it, failing to apply anything close to critical or responsible thinking.
“I really love animals, and so everything was safe, I would never take a chance on them getting hurt,” Christe said in the Daily Mail article. “…I feel the photographs show off both the grace and elegance of the dogs, which makes them appear in a slightly different way than usual.”
For all those pet photographers who would put a dog at risk so that they may achieve a new artistic perspective, we’d suggest they fling their own selves through the air, or turn their own selves upside down.
Because all those down-to-earth dogs are perfectly happy with the perspective they already have.
(Photos: Julia Christe / HotSpot Media)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airborne, animal welfare, animals, art, cruelty, daily mail, danger, dog, dogs, dropped, fear, flying, flying dogs, german, germany, hazardous, huffington post, internet, julia christe, mid air, perspective, pets, photographer, photography, photos, repsonsibility, risk, risky, websites
You’d think Brian Andrews, as an investigative reporter at CBS News in Miami, would have plenty of legitimate and important issues to pursue — given all the land-raping, government corruption, injustice, drugs and sleaze the state of Florida has to offer.
Instead, he took his investigative skills inside a dog’s mouth. And he discovered there were germs in there.
News flash? Not exactly. We present it here not because it’s breaking news, but because it’s a good example of broken news — the kind of dopey reports that are increasingly common these days as TV news outfits, like newspapers, and websites, opt for quick and easy, crowd-scaring or crowd-pleasing, stories, then do their best to hype, tease and sensationalize them.
To determine whether you should let your dog lick your face, Andrews, a member of the station’s “special projects” team, gathered saliva samples from dogs in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and sent them to a lab to be tested, as part of the station’s continuing series called “How Dirty Is It?”
He was trying to determine if the adage nobody believes in the first place — the one about a dog’s mouth being a pristinely clean place — was really true.
We all know, or should, that there are going to be germs in a dog’s mouth, based simply on the sort of things that go in there. We also know, or should, that there are also plenty of germs in our own.
Upon completion of the doggy saliva tests, Nova Southeastern University microbiologist Dr. Julie Torruellas-Garcia concluded, “There was quite a bit of bacteria that grew from the dogs’ mouths.”
Based on the cultures grown in the lab from the samples, she said, there was “evidence of Nyceria, which is linked to STDs, pneumonia and plaque.”
“While our testing did not reveal the presence of any e-coli or bacteria that could cause a staph infection, Dr. Torruellas-Garcia and her students found globs of other microbes,” the news report said.
“You may want to think twice,” the report reads, “before you and your dog exchange siliva.” (We’re pretty sure they meant saliva.)
After raising fears about mouth to mouth contact with dogs, Andrews, in a complete turnaround, goes on to present a veterinarian who said kissing your dog isn’t all that dangerous. West Palm Beach Veterinarian Ken Simmons said any bacteria in a dog’s mouth doesn’t stay there for long.
“In the end, the testing didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary,” the story reports.
So the point of it all was …?
Yes, the canine mouth, like the human mouth, is a breeding ground for germs. (Perhaps a more interesting story approach would have been if Andrews swabbed inside his own mouth, and compared the germs he might be carrying behind his own well-flossed grill with those of dogs.)
And, yes, dogs can pass on illnesses to us, and vice versa.
But spare us the scare tactics, news guys. Stop wasting our time by telling us the obvious, because, obviously, we already know that. And don’t bad-mouth dogs, no matter how bad their mouths are.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 15th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adage, bacteria, breaking news, brian andrews, broken news, dog, dogs, fear, germs, health, investigative, kiss, kisses, kissing, lab, laboratory, lick, licking, licks, manipulation, mouth, news, news media, reporter, reporting, saliva, scare tactics, special projects, television, tests, tv, zoonosis, zoonotic